Suggested Discussion Outline

Why Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation should be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court for "Crimes Against Humanity" as defined in the "Rome Statute" establishing the I.C.C.
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Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

Editorial Note: The following discussion outline will be sent tomorrow (7/7/2012) in our weekly newsletter to our 150 members.

Bcc: Our approximately 150 members
Subject: Meeting THIS WEDNESday July 11th -- Yours Truly’s Indictment of the Gates Foundation for Crimes Against Humanity

Dear Friends,

Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESday evening, July 11th, at the Salt Lake Public Library (210 East 400 South) in Conference Room C, accessible by the SPECIAL elevator just inside the EAST entrance.

Please plan to join us for socializing from 6:15 pm > 7:00 pm or, if you prefer, come solely from 7:00 pm > 8:55 pm for our formal discussion. We provide coffee/decaf + chocolate chunk cookies & peanut butter cookies -- or bring a sandwich/quiche/dessert from the Library Branch of the Salt Lake Roasting Company just inside the EAST entrance -- or bring your own snack/beverage.

[John Karls is always available afterwards to continue the discussion or just socialize half a block south at Cannella's over drinks -- everyone is welcome but Dutch treat. You may be amused to know that some of our Cannella’s regulars are daring each other to extend our post-meeting session until 4:01 pm MDT Friday (12:01 am French time on July 14) as a 43-hour celebration of Bastille Day!!!]

Our focus will be "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by David Kahneman (10/25/2011 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

However, our long-standing policy is that first-time attendees are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion even if they have not had time to read the suggested materials. Though such first-timers may want to take a look at one or two of the book reviews of “Thinking, Fast and Slow” posted on


“Thinking, Fast and Slow” comprises 512 pages of descriptions of zillions of psychological experiments dealing with different aspects of what Kahneman calls the human brain’s “System 1” (intuition or subconscious) and “System 2” (cognitive functions).

It is impossible to compose an effective Discussion Outline of the zillions of experiments.

Accordingly, it is respectfully suggested that each participant come prepared to discuss a point that was made by Kahneman and its political significance.

Sneak preview of Yours Truly’s topic???

On pp. 117-118 of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Kahneman describes how the Gates Foundation was able to cause the United States to turn its back on The Promised Land and, instead, “to wander in the wilderness another 40 years” vis-à-vis American inner-city education.

[The 40-years quotation comes from Yours Truly’s proposed topic for a future meeting which was narrowly defeated by “Thinking, Fast and Slow” in the voting for July 11th.]

In summary, as we have studied many times in the past, America has known for two decades that the only effective policy is (1) providing surrogate parents for inner-city children in the form of tutors/mentors, coupled with (2) transforming the atmosphere of an entire inner-city-school grade level or the atmosphere of an entire grade cohort in a public housing project (by means of a promise of college tuition) as the children progress from Kindergarten through High School Graduation.

However, the Gates Foundation was able to hijack inner-city educational efforts for 10 years with the false notion that smaller schools are more successful.

Kahneman points out that this is theoretically the same hoax (which he had described earlier in his book) as the notion that kidney cancer rates are highest in small, rural counties located in the Midwest, South and West!!!

Because small units are more variable and larger units tend toward the norm!!!

In other words, it is ALSO TRUE that the least successful schools tend to be small. Just as kidney cancer rates are ALSO LOWEST in small, rural counties located in the Midwest, South and West.

The suggested focus for my proposed topic was “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education” by Diane Ravitch, N.Y.U.’s Research Professor of Education and a historian of education, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.

In it, Prof. Ravitch not only accuses the Gates Foundation of pushing for 10 years the breaking up of failing high schools into smaller high schools but also, after admitting the failure of that approach, of now pushing teacher evaluations as the most important approach to failing high schools!!!

Attached to this weekly newsletter are: (1) the article in Phi Beta Kappan credited by Kahneman as providing the “heads up” regarding both the kidney-cancer hoax and the Gates Foundation small-school hoax, and (2) the 6/4/2012 MacNeil-Lehrer (aka PBS Newshour) transcript of an interview of Melinda Gates proselytizing for teacher evaluations as the most important approach to failing high schools. [NB: Both follow below as "Replies" to this posting.]

Please see my proposal on for why we should have one of our Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail Campaigns to ask President Obama to request the U.N. Security Council to confer jurisdiction on the International Criminal Court to prosecute the Gates Foundation and Melinda Gates for “Crimes Against Humanity” as defined in the “Rome Statute” which established the I.C.C.

We hope to see all of you on July 11th!!!

Your friend,

John K.

PS - To un-subscribe, please press "reply" and type "deletion requested."

PPS - Our sister organization, Drinking Liberally, meets on Friday evenings for socializing with like-minded individuals from 6:30 pm > 9:30 pm at Piper Down (1492 South State Street).

Posts: 2061
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Attachment 1 to the Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

Evidence that smaller schools do not improve student achievement.
Phi Delta Kappan - December 1, 2006

By HOWARD WAINER (a distinguished research scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners, Philadelphia, Pa.)
And HARRIS L. ZWERLING (assistant director of research at the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Harrisburg)

If more small schools than "expected" are among the high achievers, then creating more small schools would raise achievement across the board, many proponents of small schools have argued. Mr. Wainer and Mr. Zwerling challenge the faulty logic of such inferences.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it
was the epoch of incredulity.
-- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

THE urbanization that characterized the 20th century led to the abandonment of the rural lifestyle and, with it, an increase in the size of schools. The time of one-room schoolhouses ended and was replaced by the era of large schools, often with more than a thousand students, dozens of teachers of many specialties, and facilities that would not have been practical without the enormous increase in scale. Yet during the last quarter of the 20th century there were rumblings of dissatisfaction with large schools, and the suggestion that smaller schools could provide better-quality education gained adherents. (1) In the late 1990s the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began supporting small schools on a broad-ranging, intensive, national basis. By 2001, the foundation had given approximately $1.7 billion in grants to education projects. It has since been joined in support for smaller schools by the Annenberg Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Center for Collaborative Education, the Center for School Change, Harvard's Change Leadership Group, the Open Society Institute, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the U.S. Department of Education's Smaller Learning Communities Program. The availability of such large amounts of money to implement a smaller-schools policy yielded a concomitant increase in the pressure to do so, with programs to splinter large schools into smaller ones being proposed and implemented broadly in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle.

What is the evidence in support of such a change? Many claims have been made about the advantages of smaller schools, but we will focus here on just one--that when schools are smaller, students' achievement improves, all else being equal, of course. The supporting evidence for this contention is that, when one looks at high-performing schools, one is apt to see an unrepresentatively large proportion of smaller schools. But seeing a greater than anticipated number of small schools in this group does not imply that being small means having a greater likelihood of being high performing.


To illustrate our point, consider the example of kidney cancer. Figure 1 is a map of age-adjusted kidney cancer rates for men. The shaded areas are those counties that are in the lowest decile of the cancer distribution. We note that these healthy counties tend to be rural and located in the Midwest, the South, and the West. It is both easy and tempting to infer that their low cancer rates are directly due to the clean living of the rural lifestyle--no air pollution, no water pollution, and access to fresh food without additives.


Figure 2 is another map of age-adjusted kidney cancer rates. Though it looks much like Figure 1, it differs in one important detail--the shaded counties are those in the highest decile of the cancer distribution. Note that these ailing counties tend to be rural and located in the Midwest, the South, and the West. It is easy to infer that their high cancer rates might be directly due to the poverty of the rural lifestyle--limited access to good medical care, a high-fat diet, too much alcohol, and too much tobacco.

If we were to plot Figure 1 on top of Figure 2, we would see that many of the shaded counties on one map are right next to the shaded counties on the other. So what is going on? What we are seeing is variance. The variance of the mean is proportional to the sample size; thus small counties have much larger variation than large counties. A county with, say, 100 inhabitants that has no cancer deaths would be in the lowest category. But if it has one cancer death it would be among the highest. Counties like New York, Los Angeles, or Harris (Houston), with millions of inhabitants, do not bounce around like that.

If we plot the age-adjusted cancer rates against county population, this result becomes clearer still (Figure 3). We see the typical triangular-shaped bivariate distribution. When the population is small (left side of the graph), there is wide variation in kidney cancer rates, from 20 per hundred thousand to zero. When county populations are large (right side of the graph), there is very little variation, with all counties at about five cases per hundred thousand.



The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) currently yields scores in third-, fifth-, eighth-, and 11th-grade mathematics and reading, as well as scores in writing for grades 6, 9, and 11. (2) If we examine the mean scores of the 1,662 separate schools that provided fifth-grade math scores for 2001-02, we find that, of the 50 top-scoring schools (the top 3%), six of them were among the 50 smallest schools (the smallest 3%). (3) This is an overrepresentation by a factor of four. If size of school were unrelated, we would expect 3% to be in this select group, yet we found 12%. The bivariate distribution of enrollment and test scores is shown in Figure 4. The top 50 schools are displayed in red. We also identified the 50 lowest-scoring schools, displayed in blue in Figure 4. Nine of these (18%) were among the 50 smallest schools.


This result is completely consonant with what is expected--the smaller schools should have higher variance and hence should be overrepresented at both extremes. Note that the regression line shown in Figure 4 is essentially flat, indicating that, overall, there is no apparent relationship between school size and performance.

But this is not always true. Figure 5 is a similar plot of 11th-grade scores. We find a similar overrepresentation of small schools at both extremes, but this time the regression line shows a significant positive slope; overall, students at bigger schools do better.


The small schools movement seems to have arrived at one of its recommendations through the examination of only one tail of the performance distribution. Small schools are over-represented at both tails, and we have shown that this variation is entirely expected; the phenomenon follows statistical theory and shows up empirically wherever we look. Our examination of fifth-grade performance suggests that school size alone seems to have no bearing on student achievement, which is not true at the high school level, where larger schools show better performance. This also is not unexpected, because small high schools cannot provide as broad a curriculum or as many highly specialized teachers as can large schools.


In July 2005, Bob Geballe provided anecdotal evidence supporting this point in the Seattle Weekly. (4) Geballe described the conversion of Mountlake Terrace High School in Seattle from a large suburban school with an enrollment of 1,800 students into five smaller schools. The conversion was enabled with a Gates Foundation grant of almost a million dollars. Though class sizes remained the same, each of the five schools had fewer teachers. Students complained, "There's just one English teacher and one math teacher. Teachers end up teaching things they don't really know." Perhaps this helps to explain the regression line in Figure 5.

In October 2005, Lynn Thompson reported in the Seattle Times, "The Gates Foundation announced last week it is moving away from its emphasis on converting large high schools into smaller ones and instead giving grants to specially selected school districts with a track record of academic improvement and effective leadership." The foundation's leaders concluded that "improving classroom instruction and mobilizing the resources of an entire district were more important first steps to improving high schools than breaking down the size." (5)

The following month, Alfred Posamentier, dean of the School of Education at City College of the City University of New York, posted a letter to the editor of the New York Times in which he argued that studies describing the advantages of small schools "seem to miss the most important issues to be addressed by any secondary school educational innovations: a focus on curriculum and instruction." Posamentier suggested that it was critical to ask, "Can these schools provide a wide enough offering of courses to meet the needs of their students?" He also questioned whether subject-matter supervision would be "adequate to ensure proper instruction" and promote "long-term success." (6)

To return to Charles Dickens' famous observation with which we began this article, among small groups there will be greater variation, so when we examine their performance we are likely to find both the best and the worst of performance. If we pay attention to both ends, we demonstrate that ours is the age of wisdom; if we don't, we provide evidence that the age of foolishness prevails.


1. See, for example, Faith Dunn, "Choosing Smallness," in Jonathan R. Sher, ed., Education in Rural America: A Reassessment of Conventional Wisdom (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1977), pp. 123-47; Weldon Beckner, The Case for the Smaller School (Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, 1983); Craig B. Howley, "Synthesis of the Effects of School and District Size: What Research Says About Achievement in Small Schools and School Districts," Journal of Rural and Small Schools, vol. 4, 1989, pp. 2-12; Robert L. Larson, "Small Is Beautiful: Innovation from the Inside Out," Phi Delta Kappan, March 1991, pp. 550-54; Gene I. Maeroff, "To Improve Schools, Reduce Their Size," College Board News, vol. 20, 1992, p. 3; and William J. Fowler, Jr., "School Size and Student Outcomes," in Benjamin Levin, William J. Fowler, Jr., and Herbert J. Walberg, eds., Advances in Education Productivity: Vol. 5--Organizational Influences on Productivity (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1995), pp. 3-25.

2. PSSA scores can be accessed at

3. Enrollment data were obtained directly from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The authors are indebted to Rosanne Cramer and Richard Hruska for their assistance.

4. Bob Geballe, "Bill Gates' Guinea Pigs," Seattle Weekly, 20 July 2005, pp. 1-9.

5. Lynn Thompson, "School Size: Is Smaller Really Better?," Seattle Times, 26 October 2005, available at

6. Alfred S. Posamentier, "How to Assess a School," New York Times, 7 November 2005, p. A-19.

Citation Details
Title: Evidence that smaller schools do not improve student achievement.
Author: Howard Wainer
Publication: Phi Delta Kappan (Magazine/Journal)
Date: December 1, 2006
Publisher: Thomson Gale
Volume: 88 Issue: 4 Page: 300(4)

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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Attachment 2 to the Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

MacNeil-Lehrer (aka PBS Newshour)

Melinda Gates On The Importance Of Teacher Evaluations In Shaping Effective Teachers

Transcript – 6/4/2012

JEFFREY BROWN: Next, we begin a series about teachers, testing and accountability in public schools. It's an issue at the center of some major reform efforts and battles in school districts across the country. Our first part includes the views of one of the more outspoken reformers and players in this debate. Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The dropout problem in American high schools is often referred to as a crisis, and educators say the numbers back that up. On average, three in 10 student drop out of high school. Among Hispanic, African-American and Native American students, that number rises to four in ten. Students drop out for many reasons, but one thing that may help keep them in school is an effective and caring teacher. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, both funders of this program, are sponsoring the American Graduate initiative to help improve nation's high school graduation rates. As part of that initiative, local public television stations in 12 metropolitan areas are convening teacher town halls and other events, as well as text-polling educators to learn what they have to say about what works and what doesn't work when it comes to retention and dropouts.

MAN: I think teachers play an integral part in the education of kids. But I think teachers get a bad rap in the news.

WOMAN: We need some support. We need a lot of resources. We know that the research says that you should teach in small groups, but it's almost many times to do that. So we want to do what the research said. We have read and we can do it. We have the skills to do it. We just need support.

HARI SREENIVASAN: There was universal agreement in town halls that learning to read and early intervention were keys to students' education success.

WOMAN: If you taught concentrated phonics to everyone in first grade, they're dying to read. They would stand on their heads. But the problem is, they don't drop out in high school. They drop out in second grade, and they hang around for eight years.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The most recent town hall was at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

WOMAN: I teach in San Bernardino, which is the second poorest city in the United States. We get children who have never held a book before. When I started, there used to be "TV Guides" in their house. Now there's not even that.
I go into homes where there's not one book. I go into homes where children have never held a crayon, never held a pencil. And the expectation that the appropriate choice now is to evaluate teachers, let's put money into evaluating teachers? Let's put money into supporting the poorest of our children.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The issue of testing, too early and too often, was a hot topic in many of these gatherings.

MAN: The goal is not to teach them inquiry in my science classroom. It's, there's this fact you must memorize. It's a fact that is isolation of everything else. Don't worry about why it's relevant. It doesn't matter. Just learn this fact. Like, that is what these tests test. They don't test whether they're thinkers. They test whether they can memorize something. And so we need to critically think about why we're testing them.

HARI SREENIVASAN: After the L.A. town hall, I sat down with Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 1994, the philanthropic organization has spent $6 billion on U.S. That has placed the foundation at the center of many debates in education, including smaller schools, testing and teacher evaluation.
Melinda Gates, thanks so much for joining us.

MELINDA GATES, co-founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Thanks for having me.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So we just had the 10th national conversation American Graduate teacher town hall. Teachers have been speaking around the country in different forms. What are you hearing?

MELINDA GATES: I'm hearing that they are working under very difficult circumstances, that with the state budgets going down, they're seeing a lot of kids who are at risk in the school system. Their jobs are getting harder. We know they're working on average about 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. And yet I'm also hearing from them, we want our kids to succeed, and so there have to be structural changes that allow us to do our jobs.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what's the foundation's central premise when you're trying to make or enable these structural changes to happen?

MELINDA GATES: Well, we know from good research that the fundamental thing that makes a difference in the classroom is an effective teacher. An effective teacher in front of a student, that student will make three times the gains in a school year that another student will make. And so what the foundation feels our job is to do is to make sure we create a system where we can have an effective teacher in every single classroom across the United States.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We've heard this idea that it takes a village to raise a child. What about the principals, what about the parents, what about all the other factors that contribute to whether a kid or a child does well or not?

MELINDA GATES: There are a huge number of factors of whether a child succeeds in that school building. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the teacher. And that doesn't mean just the teacher teaching the subject matter. As you heard from a lot of the teachers in the town hall, they build these strong relationship with the kids. And it's that relationship they have. But we're hearing that what teachers don't have today are really three things. One is, they're saying we don't know what we have to teach by the end of the year. So the foundation has been involved in trying to create a core curriculum that 48 states have signed up to say, what are the core subjects and things kids need to learn at every grade level? Number two, they need great curriculum support, so they can go and grab different modules, and they are flexible modules that help them teach to that core curriculum, though. And then the third thing they need is great professional development. We do not have an evaluation system today in the American school system that says, how do we know we have an effective teacher, and what professional development needs to be in place to support those teachers so they can become the most effective teacher when they're teaching?

HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the measurements in certain school districts around the country has been to tie teacher performance or teacher evaluations to student test performance. And a lot of teachers push back and say, hey, there's a lot of other reasons that a student does well or doesn't do well. Why should it reflect solely on me?

MELINDA GATES: One of the things that the foundation is really trying to get the message out about is that it's not just the test. The test is just one measure of saying, is the child learning what they need to learn at grade level? That needs to be one component of an evaluation. But there are other components. The most effective evaluation systems have pure observations, where peers come in who are trained to know what effective teaching is. They come in and evaluate the teacher. And then they coach and they give instruction on teaching. Another key component is the principal observation, not just coming in with four little check boxes once a year and then never having the coaching conversation, but the principal coming in knowing what great teaching looks like , really being able to evaluate the teacher and then sitting down and having an honest conversation with the teacher: These are the areas where you're doing well. These are the areas you need to do better. Another piece of the evaluation system can be also student feedback. It turns out students do know whether they have a good teacher in front of a classroom or not. And their feedback is also indicative of whether they're going to learn the material by the end of the year.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A lot of the teachers that are very frustrated say at this point, I'm teaching to the test.
Are we in an over-tested society?

MELINDA GATES: You have to kind of go state by state, because there are different tests in different states.


MELINDA GATES: But I think one thing that has happened is there's maybe so much testing today without saying, are we testing against the core important things? And so one of the things that we have learned, for instance, that is really important is that kids need to learn, for instance, how to read a nonfiction passage and really take that apart and be able to know what the critical pieces are. Most state tests don't even test against that. So, one of the things we've done with this Common Core curriculum is to say, what is it kids really need to know? And then these 48 states signed up to this core curriculum. And now we can lots of service providers come in and create curriculum around things that actually matter, not some thing that is on the margin that you don't need to test against that doesn't really matter.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A few years ago, the foundation was very focused on smaller schools. And now you're very focused on -- it seems to be teacher evaluation. Why the switch?

MELINDA GATES: Well, it's not really a switch. It's -- honestly, it's an evolution. So, where we started in small schools, which were these small learning environments, yes, those do make a difference. But what we learned from that was the fundamental thing that made the difference was the teacher, that relationship with the teacher at the end of the day and that teacher's teaching. So, saying, okay, an effective teacher makes a difference, we then said how do you know when you have one? Where's the research that shows what an effective teacher is? We feel like we know intuitively if we had a great teacher. There was no great research around that. So, we actually went out and did the research, 3,000 teachers in six different school districts, to prove out, what does effective teaching look like? And now the piece we're involved in saying, okay, how do you get a whole system that has an evaluation system that helps develop teachers into these super-effective teachers?

HARI SREENIVASAN: How do you view your responsibility? Just by the fact that the amount of money that you're contributing to this conversation, do you feel like you have a disproportionate voice?

MELINDA GATES: Sometimes, people look at something like a foundation or our foundation and say, my gosh, they have huge resources. And the truth is, when you look at the scale of the problems we're going against, the state of California spends slightly under $30 billion a year educating their kids. So our entire foundation is $30 billion. So we could spend -- spend our money all in one year just in the state of California. But we don't do that. What a foundation has to be is to be a catalytic wedge. It can take innovations and show where they work. It can measure them. It can show what doesn't work and take the problems apart. And it's ultimately for governments to scale up.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally, what is working and what can scale up?

MELINDA GATES: Well, I think two things are working. If you look back a decade ago, when we started into this work, there wasn't even a conversation across the nation about the fact that our schools were broken, fundamentally broken. And I think that dialogue has changed. I think the American public has woken up to the fact now that schools are broken. We're not serving our kids well. They're not being educated for the -- for technology society. We're being outcompeted by other nations. So I think that has gone well. But the other thing that I think is going really well is people are starting to say, we really do need an effective teacher. And we have districts across the country, Memphis, Denver, Pittsburgh, Tampa, L.A., where they are saying, okay, we're really going to go for teacher evaluation. We're really going to figure out how to make effective teaching happen. And we're going to invest in that. And we're going to keep doing it until we get it right. And we're going to develop our teachers. And I think we are just on the verge of that happening. I think there will be some pain points along the way. I don't think this work is easy. But I think we're starting to see that bow wave change. And it's going to take a few more years to really see, okay, that's the path, and then lots of districts are on -- are doing it. But I think we're on the cusp of that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Melinda Gates, thanks so much for your time.

MELINDA GATES: Thanks, Hari.

JEFFREY BROWN: We get a different perspective tomorrow from Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education in the George H.W. Bush administration.

American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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